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Ask Ellie: Some kids slower in the race to puberty

What will be, will be.

Dear reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter, Lisi, will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions. – Ellie

Dear Lisi: My son has some friends who are more mature than he. They’ve all just finished Grade 4, so they’re mostly 10 years old. My son is still totally a child – he hasn’t remotely hit puberty, physically or mentally. He’s grown up with these boys, but some have older siblings and therefore learn more at a younger age.

It’s not usually a problem, but one boy is already really girl-crazy. He’s always talking about kissing this girl or that girl…. My son is oblivious! I would say another two boys are interested in what this one is talking about; and another two are more in line with my son.

I’m just curious how to keep the peace, if something gets sticky.

Not ready

Buckle up! As soon as the first one in the group starts moving towards puberty and pubescent thoughts, the others follow suit quickly. It’s natural. There are always stragglers but, in my experience, those in the middle lean toward the future.

There are great books out there that teach sex education to every age. Find the one that works best for you and your family. Start generic discussions and see your son’s reaction. He may show interest; he may feign disinterest but be listening with open ears; or he truly may not be ready. He’s at an age where any of those responses are normal.

But you need to be ready.

Dear Lisi: My sister married a very wealthy guy who, for lack of a better word, is just dumb. He has nothing intelligent to say ever. He’s clueless about everything. I’m shocked because my sister is a brilliant psychologist, with numerous university degrees. She’s a wealth of knowledge, interested in politics, religion and the world. She loves to travel and reads loads of books.

He works in his family’s business, but only on paper. He spends most of his days golfing, biking and hanging out with friends. He goes out to sporting events and dinners. Sometimes my sister joins, but not often.

She hasn’t said anything negative, but I feel like she’s losing her spark. Truthfully, I just don’t get it. I have no idea what they talk about! My husband and I aren’t half as intelligent as she, and we can’t stand being with him for more than an hour because he has nothing to say.

She’s not complaining, but how can this relationship be sustainable? And how can we be together as a family?

Dumbing it Down

If she’s not complaining, then maybe she’s happy. Maybe between them they share a love that you don’t see. Maybe she’s happy being able to do what she loves, use her brain and not have to worry about much else (like bills, cost of living, affordable lifestyle).

Perhaps your husband could join him at a sporting event and see a different side to his brother-in-law. At the very least, they could spend that time together so there’s at least a connection. As two couples, do things that don’t take a lot of conversing, like seeing a show, or travel where you can be together and apart.

And spend as much time with your sister alone as you can without being rude. If there’s a problem, she’ll let you know in time.

Dear Lisi: This is going to sound awful and insensitive, but I need help. My mother-in-law is in hospital, where she’s been for months, and she’s probably not leaving. She’s old and ill; it’s only a matter of time.

My daughter, who adores her, has put off a trip she’s been planning with her serious long-term boyfriend several times, for fear she’ll pass while my daughter is away. The change in plans has worked out as they both recently changed jobs.

It’s now summer and both offices are being lenient with allowing travel. I know this trip means a lot to both of them.

I think they should go, but my daughter is afraid, and if I push her and her grandmother dies while she’s away, she’ll never forgive me. What can I do?

Time is ticking

Dear Lisi: Is your mother-in-law coherent? If so, and she understands the situation, maybe she can talk to her granddaughter. They could say their just-in-case goodbyes.

Unfortunately, we aren’t in control. We can only hope for the best. Que sera, sera. What will be, will be.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email:

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